A projector can be an excellent choice for a sports bar. In terms of price per inch, they’re by far the most affordable way to get both a massive screen and the vivid detail you need to see every play. The best projector for a sports bar is one that has a low lag time, high contrast, and decently bright bulb, so you can actually see what’s going on in the game.
Considering all factors, the Optoma UHD35 is the best all-around projector for a sports bar. That said, it’s not the clear winner in every category. Before we get into the full details of each projector, lets look at how they stack up on the key points. (>>> Check it’s pricing on Amazon)
Find your best projector for sports in 2022
|BenQ TK700||BenQ TH685P||Optoma UHD35||Optoma GT1090HDR||BenQ TK700STi||ViewSonic X1|
|Brightness (Lumens)||3,200 ANSI||3,500 ANSI||3,600 ANSI||4,200 ANSI||3,000 ANSI||3,100 LED|
|Throw Distance||3.2' - 24.6'||3.2' - 24.6'||4.0' - 32.7'||1.3' - 10.9'||2.4' - 19.6'||6.5' - 12.5'|
|Screen size||30" - 300"||30" - 300"||33" - 300"||36" - 301"||30" - 300"||60" - 150"|
|Built in Speakers||5.0 Watts Mono||5.0 Watts Mono||10.0 Watts Mono||2 x 10.0 Watts||5.0 Watts Mono||6.0 Watts × 2|
|Price||Check on Amazon|
Some home theater projectors are designed for use in completely dark rooms, and that won’t do in a sports bar. While the light level in sports bars is usually lower than in many restaurants, stores, and other public spaces, you’ll still need a relatively bright lamp on whichever projector you buy.
For most sports bars, a brightness of 3,000 lumens or more should do the trick. If your bar is on the brighter side, or you want the option of using the projector in outdoor spaces, you’ll want a brightness of at least 4,000 lumens to compensate. At 4,200 lumens, the Optoma GT1090HDR is our top pick for use in well-lit spaces.
Brightest projector: Optoma GT1090HDR
A high picture quality comes from a combination of factors. For clarity and detail, look at the resolution. Projectors with 4K ultra HD use more pixels, giving the picture more realism when you’re watching sports. Color accuracy is another big part of this equation. A wider color gamut gives the projector more hues to pick from and enhances the realism of what you’re viewing.
Another thing to consider is how well the projector handles fast on-screen movement. Stats like a low input lag and high frame refresh rate are often talked about more in the context of gaming but are just as important for getting smooth performance from any content. The high frame rate, sharp contrast, 4K resolution, and wide color gamut of both the BenQ TK700 and Optoma UHD35 check all the boxes for an ideal sports bar picture, while the upscaling capability of the latter gives it the absolute best picture quality on the list.
Best picture quality: Optoma UHD35
Installation Ease and Flexibility
A wide range of screen sizes helps make a projector more flexible, especially in sports bars where you might want different-sized screens in different areas. While all of these projectors are relatively simple to set up, there are some key features on the ViewSonic X1 that give it the leg up over the other models. Along with keystone correction and a 1.3x zoom, the inclusion of lens shift is helpful for fine-tuning the image placement quickly.
Throw distance is often less of a concern for commercial spaces than it is in home theater use. Many bars can accommodate even the 30-foot or longer throw distance most projectors need to generate a huge 300” picture, and you may not even need a screen that large depending on your space. That said, the short throw of the Optoma GT1090HDR will give you more space flexibility if that’s something you need.
How you get the content to the projector makes a difference in how easy it is to set up. All of the projectors on this list have an HDMI input, and will work with any modern content source, including cable boxes and streaming sticks. This gives them good versatility, though you will still need to consider how you’ll keep the wires out of sight (and where customers won’t trip on them).
The ViewSonic X1 adds wireless content capability to the inputs you’ll find on the other models, eliminating the hassle of hiding cables. Conversely, for the widest variety of physical inputs, the robust rear panel of the Optoma UHD35 will meet your needs.
Best Projector for Sports Bars: Full Reviews
The BenQ TK700 is an incredibly versatile projector for a sports bar setting. This starts with its installation. Its 3,200-lumen lamp can be used in even fairly bright spaces without the risk of washout or picture quality loss. It also has a shorter throw distance than most standard-throw projectors, needing as little as 8 feet to fill a 100-inch screen, with options like 2D keystone correction and a 1.3x zoom for fine-tuning.
The display of the BenQ TK700 is ideal for sports, too. It has a single-digit input lag and high 240Hz refresh rate for content in full HD, producing a smooth, blur-free picture. This is combined with a wide color gamut and high image contrast, with support for HLG and HDR10 to ensure the accuracy and realism of the content. You can count on seeing every detail, too, thanks to the XPR technology it uses to produce a true 4K resolution.
Now, you will want to use external speakers with the BenQ TK700, especially in a loud environment like a sports bar. There’s a 3.5mm Mini Jack for easy connection of external speakers. There are also dual HDMI ports for content, as well as networking and USB inputs, which will be all the connectivity most sports bar owners need.
- Sharp true 4K image
- Strong color and contrast
- Bright lamp suitable for any indoor light level
- Smooth, blur-free picture
- Easy to install and use
- Shorter throw distance than other standard-throw projectors
- Weak built-in speakers
- Short lamp lifespan, especially at high brightness levels
For those buying on a budget, the BenQ TH685P is a great option to consider. It’s one of the best sports bar projectors in the under $1,000 price range, with a bright 3,500-lumen lamp and a reasonable throw distance that gives it the flexibility to be installed in almost any space.
Now, the main thing you’ll sacrifice for that lower price compared to other projectors is the resolution. While it accepts 4K content, it will be downscaled to 1080p, the maximum resolution the projector can display. That said, it still has the same broad color gamut and sharp contrast you expect from a BenQ projector, so the picture quality is high, it’s simply not quite as detailed as what you’ll get with other projectors.
This is another model you’ll want to use external speakers with, since the 5-watt speaker built in just won’t be audible in a bar environment. We do appreciate its dedicated sound modes, however, which includes a Sports mode that adds clarity to commentary and arena sounds.
- Bright lamp works in any indoor light level
- Smooth and responsive display
- Full HD image with strong color and contrast
- Flexible installation
- Accepts 4K content
- Dedicated sound mode for sports
- Affordable price
- No 4K resolution
- Weak built-in speaker
The Optoma UHD35 is a bright and user-friendly 4K projector. It’s also one of the most affordable options you’ll find with an Ultra HD resolution, with a street value of under $1,500. It produces this 4K resolution using XPR technology and a DLP display, and will even upscale lower-resolution content to near-4K levels. Add in the high dynamic contrast and you know you’ll see every detail of every game.
The lamp of the Optoma UHD35 puts out a consistent 3,600 lumens, bright enough for use even in partially-outdoor spaces like covered patios. The only caveat here is that the lamp lifespan is fairly short if you use higher brightness settings, as low as 4,000 hours. It also needs a relatively large space to produce a big screen since it has a typical standard throw distance and a narrow zoom.
The Optoma UHD35 is also a favorite among gamers because of its high frame refresh rate (1080p/240Hz) and low 4.2ms input lag. This is good news for sports, too, ensuring smooth on-screen action for all types of content. Something else we appreciate is its expanded connectivity, which includes an optical audio out along with the Mini Jack output and adds VGA to the dual HDMI inputs found on most projectors. For our more in-depth review of this projector, click here.
- Native 4K resolution with upscaling
- Low lag and high refresh rate for a smooth display
- Bright enough for indoor or outdoor use
- Good variety of input options
- Good value
- Long throw distance
- Short lamp lifespan
The cost of the Optoma GT1090HDR is a bit on the high side for a full HD projector. If that’s the main thing you’re concerned about, the GT1090HDR isn’t a great value, and it does have the lowest picture resolution on this list. Having said that, it’s a durable projector with a long lamp lifespan, as long as 30,000 hours. That makes it a great choice if you’re looking at the long-term value.
One reason to consider the Optoma GT1090HDR is if your sports bar is brightly lit, or if you want to use the projector in an outdoor space. At 4,200 lumens, the picture will stay bright even outside in the day as long as you’re under a patio or awning.
The other main advantage of the GT1090HDR is its short throw distance. You can get a massive 300” picture from only 11 feet away. This makes the Optoma GT1090HDR an excellent choice for small spaces or unusual layouts. The inclusion of automatic 4-corner correction also makes it easier to set up and align the image, so it’s a user-friendly way to bring big screen entertainment to your bar. For the full review of this projector click here.
- Bright enough to use even in well-lit spaces
- Easy to install and adjust image
- Shorter throw distance
- Lamp is more durable and dust-resistant
- Good contrast and color accuracy
- On the pricey side for a 1080p projector
The main thing setting the BenQ TK700STi apart from other options on this list is its built-in Android TV interface. This can potentially cut down on the wires, devices, and remotes you need, a simplicity that can be very helpful in a sports bar.
The installation of the BenQ TK700STi is also flexible and simple. Its throw distance isn’t the shortest on the list but it’s on the shorter side, producing a 100” image from around 6-7 feet away. Paired with this is a 2D keystone correction and corner fit correction, ensuring a square image even if the projector is installed a bit askew.
The 3,000 lumens produced by the BenQ TK700STi will be bright enough for any indoor light environment, and is definitely bright enough for the majority of sports bars. The DLP display produces the full Rec. 709 spectrum that’s the broadcast standard, with 4K resolution for sharp, realistic detail. The only place it falls a bit short of the other options is its image contrast, which is a bit lower than the dynamic contrast available on the Optoma projectors.
- True 4K resolution
- Wireless connectivity
- Built-in Android streaming interface
- Full coverage of Rec. 709 color spectrum
- Flexible set-up with relatively short throw distance
- Weak built-in sound
- Lower image contrast
The ViewSonic X1 uses a different light source technology than most projectors. Its LED light source is more efficient than lamps or lasers, giving it a lower power usage and longer usable lifespan compared to other projector types. The downside of that LED technology is it’s not as powerful, producing only around 1,300 ANSI lumens (3,100 LED lumens), which will be fine in a completely dark space but may suffer from washout from even low levels of ambient light.
Aside from the brightness, the ViewSonic X1 is otherwise flexible in terms of its installation. Its throw distance is on the shorter side, producing a 100-inch image with between 8-10 feet of distance. The 10% lens shift, 1.3x zoom, and 2D keystone correction give users a nice variety of ways to tweak the alignment and square the image. While it only has one HDMI input, it also has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, a convenient addition for modern entertainment setups.
Another advantage of an LED light source is that it produces better, more nuanced color, and the X1 has a color gamut wider than the Rec.709 spectrum. It also has a high dynamic contrast for a sharp, realistic picture. The only downside of the ViewSonic X1 from a picture quality standpoint is its resolution. While it accepts 4K content, it will be downscaled to full HD, the maximum resolution the X1 can produce.
- High dynamic contrast with wide color gamut
- Responsive, smooth display
- Reasonable throw distance
- Good variety of image alignment features
- Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity
- Accepts 4K content
- Low lamp brightness
- Maximum on-screen resolution of Full HD
In terms of performance and value, the Optoma UHD35 is our top choice for a sports bar. (>>> Find on Amazon) It has the best overall picture quality, including sharp 4K resolution that maintains its clarity even during fast-paced action. >>> 4K projector buyer’s guide.
Remember not every projector is ideal for every space, though. Before making your choice, there are two big questions you need to ask yourself: what kind of space you’re working with and what kinds of sports you’re watching. If you need to be able to track small or fast-moving objects, the high frame refresh rate of the BenQ TK700 or BenQ TH685P will also give you a smooth on-screen movement.
In a commercial space, throw distance isn’t normally a big concern. If you have a small bar with a cramped or complicated layout, though, the short throw and bright lamp of the Optoma GT1090HDR give it the most flexibility on the list.
Any of these projectors will serve you well for watching sports and can be a great alternative to traditional TVs, giving you a bigger screen for less money. We hope this article has helped you figure out which projector is ideal for your needs!